PS3 UT3 officially pushed to '08, new MK revealed

Development issues cost Sony a major holiday console exclusive, though Epic says it is trying to finish the title by year's end; Midway announces new fighter, Blitz game.

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Last month, Epic Games president Mark Rein cautioned fans that a November release for Unreal Tournament 3 on the PlayStation 3 and PC was just a target and not a certainty. Epic appears to have missed the target with the PS3 edition of the game: Publisher Midway today announced that it expects that it won't ship that version of the game until the first quarter of 2008.

The warning comes in spite of a statement from Rein late Tuesday saying that the studio is still toiling to get the PS3 UT3 completed by year's end. However, Midway president and CEO David Zucker said in an investor conference call that any delay will not affect the PC edition, which is still set to release in early November.

Zucker also said there is release window yet announced for the Xbox 360 version of Unreal Tournament 3, which is set to arrive sometime next year. However, a Midway representative confirmed to GameSpot that UT3 would still see a period of console exclusivity on the PS3.

The shift in the PS3 game's release date was also listed by Midway as one of several factors contributing to the publisher reducing its quarterly and yearly revenue projections. Previously, Midway expected $50 million in revenue for the quarter ended September 30, but lowered that figure to $39 million after the PS3 edition of Stranglehold was pushed into the fourth quarter.

Events affecting the company's full-year revenue estimates include delays for the PS3 Unreal Tournament 3 as well as the PS3 edition of BlackSite: Area 51. In Europe, the game has been pushed into the first quarter of 2008, while North American Sony fans will have to wait until late November for the game, three weeks after its PC and Xbox 360 counterparts ship. Factoring in those difficulties, Midway is now projecting full-year revenues of $170 million, down from the previously expected $225 million.

In the conference call, Zucker blamed the PS3 BlackSite and Stranglehold delays on problems stemming from getting the Unreal Engine 3 up and running on Sony's console. Both will arrive before Epic Games' PS3 debut, which had been prominently promoted as being exclusive to Sony's console and the PC during the 2007 holiday shopping season.

Zucker also provided a sales performance estimate for Stranglehold, saying he expects the company to ship 1.5 million copies of the game worldwide across its three platforms. He said those numbers reflect the game underperforming expectations in North America, but overperforming them in Europe.

Regardless, Zucker said the problems with the engine and the platform have been dealt with, and Midway expects its 2008 PS3 titles to ship day and date with their Xbox 360 counterparts. However, he noted that the two games would still be shipping before Epic Games' own debut PS3 Unreal Engine 3 game.

However, it wasn't all delays and bad news from the publisher. Zucker also confirmed that a number of hit franchises will be resurfacing next year.

"Looking ahead to 2008, with our core technology platform now in place, we expect to release a number of titles, including already announced console versions of Unreal Tournament 3, a next-generation installment of our NBA Ballers franchise, Wheelman, and TNA iMPACT! the video game," Zucker said in a statement. "We also expect to release several as-yet-unannounced titles such as next-generation versions of our hit franchises Blitz and Mortal Kombat, and two exciting new ambitious open world games. We intend to give more details on our 2008 release schedule in the near future."

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